New York, Manhattan, Warwick, Bellvale and Greenwood Lake

I wasn’t in the city too much, but I did catch this shot of the George Washington Bridge on the way out.


I stayed with friends at Greenwood Lake outside the city. You don’t have to drive that far to be in a country setting. This shot is from Demarest Hill Winery in Warwick New York.

Demarest-wineryThe wine wasn’t to my liking, but they do appear to have good grappa and brandy, which I didn’t try. The scenery was stunning.

However, in the department of recommendations, I suggest The Creamery. Here you will get great views and fantastic ice cream!

The Creamery Ice Cream Cone Nia in front of The Creamery View from The Creamery

To burn off some of the ice cream, we went water skiing, or at least, my friends did. I used the opportunity to play with the Panasonic DMC-ZS40’s auto-focusing motor drive. It’s pretty easy to rack up about 300 photos in an hour that way! I liked that I could zoom in on the skier and then shoot continuously. For action shots you really have to shoot that way to get just the right shot. Here is my favorite of a friend of my friends.


Ochs Orchard in Warwick is a beautiful place to pick up some produce.

Ochs-farm FarmOverall, I had a great time with my friends. The meeting I had with Brenda Novak, her agent and one of her editors, Margaret Marbury, was very helpful to me. We had a good time and the conversation helped me sort some things out for myself about genre, direction, blogs, and commercial fiction.


A Thanksgiving day poem and highlights of a foodie

Love is what it’s all about–
but food is a close second.

Nia Simone, November 28, 2013

I was asking an Australian friend if they have any holidays that are basically about food. Not really. Okay, so I have several Australian friends, many of whom I’ve met through blogging, so pipe up if you disagree! Of course, as you know, the food in Australia is amazing, so perhaps we don’t need a specific holiday centered on feasting there.

Australia is my other home, and this is becoming clear as one fellow blogger thought I was Australian.  I love Australia and my Australian friends. Today is an American holiday, though, and I’m going to celebrate it by starting this celebration of food off with home-grown and home cooked foods before moving on to some of my international culinary samples.

Home grown and home-cooked:

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Vegan Thai

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Getting closer
Lentil salad
Yummy ingredients
Yummy ingredients
Dinner time! (Very yummy)
Dinner time! (Very yummy)
Vegan Thai with other veggies


Greenwich Village Manhattan:

Turophilia (excessive love of cheese) Greenwich Village, sign outside the cheese shop
Turophilia (excessive love of cheese) Greenwich Village, sign outside the cheese shop
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A bit of cheese
Octopus, beer and a dolmata at Boukies, Greenwich Village
Octopus, beer and a dolmata at Boukies, Greenwich Village


Barramundi at Lorne
Stuffed squid at a tapas bar in Melbourne, DeGraves Street
Joe’s? I think, Sydney, by the river
Smoked salmon at Joe’s in Sydney

San Francisco:

Dessert at Piperade
Appetizer at Piperade
Piperade Restaurant


Christian Constant Restaurant starters
Christian Constant Restaurant starters
Self portrait
I guess you could say wine was a big feature in Paris! This was dinner on the deck of our apartment.
Veal — Opera House
Deep fried Celeriac
Deep fried Celeriac — Opera House
Crepe de Frites Maison Robert
Crepe de Frites Maison Robert on Champs Elysees
Opera House
Rolls, fresh, Opera House
Butter at opera
Butter, Opera House
Tomato jam mozzarella bonito and basil sorbet
Tomato jam mozzarella bonito and basil sorbet, Opera House
Green pea soup cold with cream and goat cheese on toast
Green pea soup cold with cream and goat cheese on toast, Opera House
Opera House, Grey Goose is the house vodka
Rue Cler Produce outside
Rue Cler Produce outside
Rue Cler Capuccino and Cafe Americain
Rue Cler Capuccino and Cafe Americain


A waffle at Keukenhof Gardens

Bread Netherlands where I bought it


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Thai food

Thai food

Appetizers ready to go out to the deck
Appetizers ready to go out to the deck of the houseboat


The Brush Fire
The Brush Fire
Torchy's Tacos, The Independent
Torchy’s Tacos, The Independent

More Manhattan:

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Grilled camembert at The Eatery
Days 16 021 meat loaf ravioli mac and jack
Meat loaf ravioli mac and jack at The Eatery
Days 16 Lisas bagel
Lisa’s bagel
Days 16 018 sweet italian sausage risotto croquettes
Sweet italian sausage risotto croquettes
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At The Boathouse in Central Park
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The Boathouse, Central Park
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Flor de Mayo, Peruvian restaurant upper west side
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Flor de Mayo, Peruvian restaurant, upper west side
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Hot pretzel in Central Park
Flor de Mayo
Flor de Mayo, Peruvian restuarant, upper west side
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Deli, lower East side
Sesame seed crackers at The Eatery
Sesame seed crackers at The Eatery
Shmear, a deli in the upper west side
Shmears at a deli in the upper west side
Shmear, a deli in the upper west side
Shmears, continued, at a deli in the upper west side
Shmear, a deli in the upper west side
Yet more shmears at a deli in the upper west side
Pain au Chocolate at the Pushkin cafe across from the Museum of Modern Art
Pain au Chocolate at the Brasserie Pushkin across from the Museum of Modern Art
Dining Room at Brasserie Puskin NYC
Dining Room at Brasserie Puskin NYC


Blackbottom cheesecake from The Bake Shop
Blackbottom cheesecake from The Bake Shop
Grasshopper (mint chocolate chip) from The Bake Shop
Grasshopper (mint chocolate chip) from The Bake Shop

Snaps of New York, series 1

Some of these you’ve seen before. A bit of that old longing for New York is starting to build, so  I opened up the vault to trip down memory lane with favorite shots from The Big Apple. New York felt like home the first time I climbed up to the street from a subway station and stepped into a river of Type A humanity rushing through a high-rise canyon. Since then, I’ve been back more than 20 times. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my photo of the crowds near Grand Central Station today. These are all quiet pictures. I’ll just need to go back and take that photo again!

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From Central Park
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Looking up from the lobby of the Guggenheim Museum
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Looking back from Roosevelt Island

I really like bridges and buildings, especially together.

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From the tram coming back from Roosevelt Island

7 (literary) reasons to love Manhattan (Brooklyn Heights)

After walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, veer right and climb slightly to Brooklyn Heights. On Henry Street, find a terrific address:

Love Lane

Make your way to the former home of Thomas Wolfe, 40 Verandah Place:

Thomas Wolf

Continue on to 31 Grace Court to see where Arthur Miller lived while he penned Death of a Salesman:

Arthur Millers House 31 Grace Court

Around the corner, observe the former boarding house (20 Remsen Street) where Norman Mailer finished The Naked and the the Dead:

Arthur Millers House Remsen

Though living in a boarding house, Miller must have been inspired when he stepped outside and saw the waterfront:

Brooklyn Heights Promenade seen from Mailers house

It’s strangely satisfying to search out the residences of literary greats, take a picture and think about the authors living and writing there.

Return to Manhattan on the ferry:

Ferry Nia on ferry

10 (bridges and buildings) reasons to love Manhattan.

City center, note archway for cars to pass through.

Manhattan Downtown

On the steps of City Hall:

Nia on the steps of city hall

World Trade Center from Brooklyn Bridge.

World Trade Center from Brooklyn Bridge Nia

Empire State Building (tallest building by my right shoulder) from Brooklyn Bridge.

Nia with Empire State Building

Statue of Liberty (tiny line by my right elbow) from Brooklyn Heights.

Promenade Statue of Liberty Nia

Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry (which is free):

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Verrazano Bridge, glimpsing the ocean beyond the harbor.

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The old ferry building,

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now in disuse.

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35 (art) reasons to love Manhattan

Take the Highlights of the Museum tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s free (with admission, which is free also, sometimes).

Begin with the Greco Roman area, the basis of Western culture, early Greek sculpture. Observe symmetry and, with one foot forward, the beginnings of motion in sculpture. Note the hands held stiffly by the side.

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100 years later, this Greek statue in the heroic pose was created. Note musculature and movement.

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See this contemporary artist from Ghana who composes sculptures from found items, in this case bottle caps and labels from liquor bottles. The artist believes art, like life, is always changing, so he does not provide instruction on how the piece should be hung, leaving it to the curators to arrange the display.

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See a reconstruction of Marie Antoinette’s room where she lived during her confinement. Artists made things for her during this period and, according to her requirements, imprinted the letters “MA” on any furniture they created for her. The desk shows the beginning of multi-purpose furniture, a new idea at the time.

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The bust of Diderot, a contemporary, one of the philosopher-creators of the Enlightenment era and the creator of the first encyclopedia, stands on a side table in the room.

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Next a corner of Impressionists containing four works of Claude Monet, who said, “Light changes even stone.”

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Monet worked on the same subject, painting it repeatedly in different lights to explore this idea of light and mood. In these paintings, he also used complimentary colors, blue and gold, to help create a soothing effect. He spent three years on this motif, renting an apartment in a drapery store located across the street from Parliament, so he could render the subject in varying light. He used impasto, a style of layering on paint.

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During this period, sculpture employed studied composition, as shown in this piece, which displays a highly orchestrated, triangular arrangement, with smaller figures below and the main figure being the largest in the middle.

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Then Rodin shocked the Paris scene with this sculpture called the Burghers of Calais. Rodin revolutionized sculpture on many levels, depicting ordinary people performing heroic acts, with figures formed in equal and realistic sizes, walking rather than posing,

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When Calais was under siege, these burghers offered themselves to the king as hostages to save their town.

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Rodin believed that the hands and feet reveal our emotions so he made them larger. The feet are big and heavy, rooted to the ground by the burden they carried.

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There is a happy ending to the Burghers-of-Calais story. The queen, upon hearing the story, persuaded the king to set the men free.

In the baroque period you see allegorical painting, with the different elements of the composition representing different concepts; for example the bird represents natural music and the lute represents man-made music.

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A year, later, Velasquez launched a new direction with this piece, in which he painted an ordinary man and his emotions, breaking with tradition and launching a new period. This painting depicts his slave, whom he freed shortly after doing this portrait. The slave liked working with Velasquez though, so he stayed with him as a salaried employee. The former slave was also a painter.

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Next, visit the music gallery where you’ll see a lute, invented at the time of the above allegorical painting.

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This room shows the baroque period’s leisurely pace and the abundance of the period in which the invention of new instruments blossomed. This harpsichord is decorated in real gold. The frieze and figures depict a story.

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Can a room be art? Visit this room created by a Japanese artist. The water flows evenly over all sides of this stone, which is carved to be different on each side. The giant stone from the artist’s home area sits on a bed of rocks from a sacred river.

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End the tour with this painting of an American woman living in Paris by an American artist. The woman was obsessed with having pale skin, taking arsenic and using lavender powder to make it more pale. (This painting is distorted by the angle from which it was shot.)

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The painting created a huge scandal in Paris and nearly destroyed the artist’s career so he went back to painting people in their proper clothes.

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At the end of his life, the artist donated the scandalous painting to the Metropolitan and said it was the best work he achieved in his career, and it was one of his first. Artists, pay attention, be careful about creating only things that conform to society’s mores.

Return to the impressionist galleries to linger over a visual feast.

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Monet (believe it or not)
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Picasso always stands out in a crowd.

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Degas calls to you from across a gallery.

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Go in for a closer look.

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Thank you for visiting.